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Cat Asthma Attacks - What Pet Parents Need to Know

Much like people, cats can suffer from asthma, and for many of the same reasons as people. If your kitty is having difficulties breathing it's time to head to the vet to find out if your cat is having an asthma attack! Today our Mooresville vets explain how you can tell if your cat has asthma.

Can Cats Have Asthma?

Coughing and wheezing are often the first symptoms that cause pet parents to wonder if their cat could have asthma.

Yes, cats can suffer from asthma attacks and they can be serious. If your kitty is having an asthma attack you may also notice that they are hunched close to the ground with their neck extended forward as if trying to expel a hairball. During a particularly serious asthma attack, you will be able to clearly see your cat's sides going in and out as they work hard to breathe, and your cat may even begin coughing up mucus or drooling.

Struggling to breathe properly is bound to cause your cat to become very stressed and frightened. If your kitty is experiencing breathing difficulties, contact your vet immediately for assistance or call your nearest animal emergency hospital!

Signs of asthma in cats include:

If your feline friend is exhibiting any of the following symptoms of asthma in cats contact your vet straight away, or head to your nearest 24/7 animal emergency hospital.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Body hunched close to the ground with neck extended
  • Open-mouth breathing
  • Gurgling sounds from throat
  • Persistent coughing or gagging
  • Overall weakness
  • Increased effort to breathe
  • Wheezing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Blue lips and gums
  • Frothy mucus while coughing
  • Increased swallowing

Be sure to monitor your cat's breathing while they sleep. When a cat is resting they should take between 24 - 30 breaths per minute. If your cat is taking more than 40 breaths per minute, they could be experiencing an asthma attack. Contact your vet immediately for assistance, or take your pet to the nearest animal emergency hospital for an urgent examination.

That said, although rapid breathing during sleep can be another symptom of asthma in cats, it's important to note is that snoring or breathing loudly when resting doesn't necessarily mean that your cat is having an asthma attack.

Any time you are concerned about your cat's breathing it is always best to err on the side of caution and contact your vet for a full examination.

Causes of Asthma in Cats

Asthma attacks in cats are often triggered by the cat inhaling an allergen. Some of the most common allergens that can lead to asthma attacks in cats include:

  • Grass
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Household cleaning products
  • Some foods
  • Cat litter dust

Beyond allergens, there are also a number of underlying conditions which could contribute to the severity of your cat's asthma attack including pneumonia, increased stress, obesity, parasites, a genetic predisposition, or a pre-existing heart condition. 

Cat Asthma Treatments

If your cat is experiencing asthma symptoms it is important to see your vet for an accurate diagnosis! As mentioned above, there are a number of serious health conditions that could be at the root of your cat's breathing difficulties.

Treatment for cats with asthma may include corticosteroids to reduce inflammation in the lungs, and possibly a bronchodilator to help dilate the airway. These medications can be prescribed by your veterinarian in the form of an injectable, oral medication or as an inhaler fitted with a mask designed for use with cats. In some cases, the vet may prescribe a corticosteroid medication alone as a treatment for asthma in cats. 

Life Expectancy for Cats with Asthma

In cats, asthma is considered to be an incurable and often progressive condition, which means that cats with asthma are likely to experience periodic flare-ups that can vary in intensity from mild to life-threatening.

That said, with the help of appropriate medications and a little extra care from pet parents, asthma in cats is manageable. By keeping a watchful eye on your cat's respiratory effort, looking out for the symptoms listed above, and intervening with medication when needed, you can help your cat to live a happy life for many years.

Diet & Cat Asthma

There is a lot of advice out there as to what you should feed your cat if they suffer from asthma. If you believe that a change of diet could help your cat's asthma symptoms, consult your veterinarian. Helping your cat to maintain a healthy weight, while ensuring that all of their nutritional needs are met, is certainly a great way for pet parents to help kitty stay healthy. Your vet will be able to recommend the right diet for your cat, based on your pet's medical history, activity level and overall condition.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat is experiencing breathing difficulties veterinary care is essential. Contact Lake Norman at Mooresville Animal Hospital to book an urgent examination for your feline friend. 

New Patients Welcome

Lake Norman at Mooresville Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our veterinarians are passionate about improving the health of cats, dogs and exotic pets. Book your pet's first appointment today.

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